European Parliament warns of global dangers of US domain revocation proposals

By EDRi · November 17, 2011

Responding to an intervention by EDRi (video, speech (PDF) at a hearing recently on attacks against computer systems, the European Parliament today adopted, by a large majority, a resolution on the upcoming EU/US summit stressing “the need to protect the integrity of the global internet and freedom of communication by refraining from unilateral measures to revoke IP addresses or domain names.”

In recent years, the United States has been increasingly using the fact that much of the Internet’s infrastructure and key businesses are under US jurisdiction in order to impose sanctions on companies and individuals outside its jurisdiction. This started two years ago when the domain names of a Spanish company owned by a British businessman were removed by a US-based registrar. The company was never accused of breaking Spanish law. More recently, the .org domain name of the Spanish website RojaDirecta was revoked by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement , having previously been found innocent of copyright infringement by Spanish courts.

This situation is now turning critical, with legislative proposals such as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act claiming worldwide jurisdiction for domain names and IP addresses. The definitions in SOPA are so broad that, ultimately, it could be interpreted in a way that would mean that no online resource in the global Internet would be outside US jurisdiction.

The resolution will now be forwarded by the President of the Parliament to the to the European Council, the European Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the US Congress, the co-chairs of the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue and the co-chairs and secretariat of the Transatlantic Economic Council.

On 15 November, over 60 civil and human rights organizations wrote a letter to Congress (co-signed by EDRi,  Access, the Association for Progressive Communications, Reporters Without Borders, Center for Technology and Society at FGV in Brazi and many more) urging the rejection of SOPA. The letter argues that the Act “is as unacceptable to the international community as it would be if a foreign country were to impose similar measures on the United States.”